"Clothing Our Community" refugee event to mark Mandela Day Centenary

 

A refugee girl paints on a t-shirt during an activity held in conjunction with Mandela Day 2018  © UNIQLO Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, 18 July 2018 - Over 110 refugee youths from a refugee learning centre, IDEAS Academy, today commemorated Mandela Day in an event called “Clothing Our Community”.

The event that focuses on volunteerism and community engagement, was jointly organized by the South African High Commission and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, with the support of UNIQLO Malaysia.

The “Clothing Our Community” event, led by UNIQLO Malaysia, involved a workshop to design T-Shirts on the theme of Peace and Love, and a clothes distribution activity where students were able to select their own outfits from new and pre-loved clothes specially prepared by UNIQLO. These activities reflect the idea of clothing not only providing a layer of protection for refugees, but returning a sense of dignity for people who have lost everything.

A refugee student shows off her t-shirt design at a Mandela Day event held in Kuala Lumpur  © UNHCR/A. Wan

The event was facilitated by volunteers made up of staff from UNIQLO, UNHCR, the South African High Commission, and the South African community in Malaysia.

Nelson Mandela International Day is celebrated worldwide to recognise the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom. Every year on 18 July — the day Nelson Mandela was born —individuals around the world mark Nelson Mandela International Day with acts that can make a difference in their communities.

“We celebrate Nelson Mandela Day every year on this day to remember one of the world’s most revered statesmen, and to bring visibility to the issues that were important to Nelson Mandela, to South Africa, and the world,” said H.E Ms S. I Mhlanga, the South African High Commissioner.

“This year is special as it is the 100 year anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth. It is an opportunity to recommit ourselves to his principles and work toward building a better world for all.”

“For the Mandela Day Centenary, the High Commission has chosen to highlight the needs of refugee children, and partner with the UNHCR who are making a difference in their lives, mainly by providing education they would otherwise not have access to,” said Mhlanga.

There are over 158,000 refugees registered with UNHCR in Malaysia, over 42,000 of them are children.

“Refugees have no official status in the country, and among the many protection concerns they face as a result of this is that they have no lawful means to earn a living to support their families. Their children are not permitted into the national school system and they face daily challenges in securing accessible and affordable health care,” said Richard Towle, UNHCR Representative. “Yet, in spite of this, refugees remain resilient and work hard every day to help their own communities.”

“We are privileged to have been invited to collaborate with the South African High Commission to commemorate the Mandela Day Centenary, together with our long time corporate partner UNIQLO. And we appreciate their ongoing commitment towards supporting refugees to rebuild their lives in safety and dignity.”

Refugee youths pick out attires donated by UNIQLO at the Mandela Day event held in Kuala Lumpur  © UNIQLO Malaysia

"In line with UNIQLO's Lifewear philosophy, we are happy that our long term collaboration with UNHCR contributes back to the community that we are in as this is a big part of what we do as a company,” said a UNIQLO spokesperson.

“We are thankful to have employees who share our vision and have dedicated staff volunteers participating. We believe that this partnership in commemorating Mandela Day is a positive contribution to our community which is in line with Nelson Mandela International Day, celebrating Nelson Mandela's contribution to the culture of peace and freedom.”

The event was also supported by Nandos and SANLAM (Pacific &Orient).

Nelson Mandela International Day is celebrated every year on 18 July in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom. On this day, communities around the world mark Nelson Mandela International Day (18 July) by making a difference in their communities. In 2018, the world celebrates 100 years since Nelson Mandela’s birth.